Well, it’s done. Our guild, the Greater Vancouver Woodturners Guild, hosted the West Coast Round Up September 10 -12 featuring Nick Cook, Dale Larson, Marilyn Campbell, Graeme Priddle, Michael Hosaluk, Allain Mailland, Jason Marlow and our own Art Liestman. Our team of 16 led by Bruce Campbell has worked steadily for the past year to get things ready and it appears that the whole thing was a resounding success. We heard no complaints (other than a small lunch issue) and had many, many compliments on the demonstrations, the audio visual services, the instant gallery, the handbook, the trade show, the venue and above all, the hospitality. Our aim was to put on a first class event and I believe we pulled it off.
Surrounded by world-class turners, we were able to choose from 44 sessions in 11 rotations. Not only that, we could choose from seven extra workshops in the days before and after the symposium. The symposium topics ranged from basic turning techniques by professional bowl turners to the techniques used by cutting edge abstract artists. I don’t think there was a rotation that didn’t offer something that any turner at any level wouldn’t find of interest. I can say that because I was able to suggest many excellent choices to a few friends who are rank novices (they were very pleased) and even though I have a few years under my belt, I had difficulty choosing from all the new material right up to the last rotation.
Smaller regional symposia like ours have the unique ability to offer a more relaxed, intimate atmosphere allowing direct interaction between attendees and presenters. The fact that all of the world class turners present are really everyday, ordinary people makes for an incredible opportunity for the average turner to engage in conversation with them. None of the presenters let an opportunity pass by to chat with anyone at any time; something they were able to enjoy that doesn’t happen at AAW symposia. It is a good deal all around for everyone.
I was fortunate enough to obtain the book “New Masters of Woodturning” in the silent auction. The significance of what we had achieved hit me when I realized that of the eight outstanding presenters I had sat with, shared a drink with, laughed with and learned from on a regular basis during the past week, four of them were “New Masters”. I am still not quite sure the whole thing really happened. Michael Hosaluk turned me on to a whole new way of looking at wood turning and art back in the late ’80’s and still does to this day. He stayed in our home and shared his views on art and life as if he had known my wife and me for years. I also spent two full days in workshop with Marilyn Campbell learning her techniques and sharing views on art in one-on-one conversation. How will I ever top this?
I encourage any turner – no matter what your level – to participate in a symposium. If it is the annual AAW symposium, a regional symposium, if it is local or if you have to travel to get there (even better) then do so. Your level of turning will automatically take a leap up. That may sound improbable but I speak from experience. In 1999 I attended the AWW symposium in Tacoma, Washington. Immediately after that my turning changed. Unfortunately I was not able to pursue it for the next few years starting in 2000 but I remained hopeful because I was inspired. In 2007 I attended the second West Coast Round Up in Richmond and my turning took off in an entirely new direction. This time there are already things stirring in my brain that had not been there only days before. As Graeme Priddle said, take the course, attend the symposium, buy the tool; it’s only money. And I say if you wait, saying “I’ll catch it next time”, next time may not come and then you really will be the poorer for it.
As always, I encourage your comments and questions, so please refer to the tag line at the bottom of the article to post a comment.